There’s something beautifully satisfying about a crumbly slice, particularly one that’s dense with buttery oats and sweet summer berries. They take me back to the hazy days of my childhood, small feet pounding on linoleum as I ran to the kitchen for afternoon tea.
When I was tiny, my mother had a knack for incorporating fruits, vegetables and wholegrains into her baking repertoire. It wasn’t just for ‘concealment’ purposes; rather, she just preferred carrot, lemon or apple spice cake over dense chocolate cake and Victoria sponge. Wise woman.
In my own kitchen, I’ve adopted the same principles, partly for health reasons and wholly to please my own taste buds. Crunchy oats, earthy spelt and nut flours, moist fruits and ancient grains… they sing a grand chorus when mixed together into a cake, granola bar, muffin or pie.
I also habitually throw fresh leafy herbs and ground spices into my cake recipes (click here and here for some examples) for added complexity and flavour. The savoury notes both compliment and accentuate the fragrant baked fruits in the most beautiful of ways. Needless to say, it’s a habit that I’m disinclined to break.
This slice celebrates everything that’s beautiful, sweet and unctuous about summer fruit. Plump, ripe berries picked from the last of the season’s brambles, sandwiched between buttery oats and earthy spelt flour.
As the heat of early March slowly dulls under a blanket of fallen autumn leaves, it’s getting harder to find fresh Australian berries. Admittedly, half of the blackberry fruit in this post was cooked from frozen due to low supplies at my local market. However, when sinking my teeth into a jammy oat slice with crunchy wholegrains and coconut, it no longer mattered. I was grasping summer’s bounty with floured hands and a happy heart.
These bars make a beautifully transportable morning tea when wrapped in foil or brown paper. The fruit, cooked down to a jammy consistency, is slightly sticky but largely protected by the resilient oat crust.
They’re also lovely as a dessert, served slightly warm with a scoop of yoghurt or vanilla ice cream. Blissful, wholesome goodness (of which my mother would definitely approve).
Makes 24 squares
- 240g wholegrain spelt flour
- 50g wholegrain organic oats
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 275g organic panela or rapadura sugar (substitute light brown sugar)
- 200g cold butter, cut into pieces
- 75g shredded coconut
- 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 350g fresh or frozen berries (I used blackberries and raspberries)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a 31 x 17cm slice tin.
Place the spelt flour and baking powder into a flour sifter or fine sieve. Sift through twice to evenly distribute the raising agent. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl with the oats, butter and panela sugar.
Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (alternately, you can chuck the dry ingredients and the butter into a food processor and pulse it until it reaches the right consistency).
Stir through the shredded coconut. Measure 1 teacupful of the mixture (about 170g) and set it aside for the crumbly topping. Add the eggs to the remaining bowl of mixture and mix thoroughly.
Spread the mixture evenly over the base of your lined baking tin. Smooth out firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon.
Scatter over the berries, ensuring that they’re evenly distributed across the base. Scatter over the reserved crumble topping.
Transfer the slice to your preheated oven and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only moist crumbs attached.
Leave to cool before slicing into 24 squares.